Sunday, 30 April 2017

Last day birding

Today i got a lifer - Californian endemic, Yellow billed Magpie.
sad sad pic of a very distant Yellow-billed Magpie [you have to take my word for it!]

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Last two Days in California

Friday's plan was to attempt to find an obvious Californian specialty; Californian Condor. So from our overnight hotel in Bakersfield we aimed for Bitter Creek Wildlife Refuge, a high and hilly region to search for the elusive condor. It was an absurdly windy day and the short story is - the Condors remained elusive.
part of a Condor free sky
not a condor - Golden Eagle
not a condor but a pretty nice bird  Lawrences Goldfinch

We saw a few good birds though before making our way to the Californian coast; specifically the town of Ventura.
Heerman's Gull
a few good gulls...
Red breasted Merganser

Few good photos were taken and I blame the wind!!
Western Grebe - pre boat trip [not that the grebe was taking the boat trip...]

Saturday we had a cunning plan to take a boat to Santa Cruz Island to tick the endemic there - Island Scrubjay. However the trip to the island and the return trip stole the show!
a few of the estimated 5000 Common Dolphins seen
Black vented Shearwater
Humpback Whale among feeding frenzy; California Sealion, Common Dolphins plus seabirds
Humpback lunge feeding!
Humpback lunge feeding! Again and again - sometimes within 10 metres of the boat!
diving humpy
Brown Pelican pre dive
Meanwhile on the island...

the endemic Island Scrub-jay stayed well away from my camera however a nice Pacific slope Flycatcher stayed
The endemic Island Fox - mammal lifer!

Island Fox

yet again.....
The island fox is significantly smaller than the gray fox and is probably the smallest fox in North America, averaging slightly smaller than the swift and kit foxes. Typically, the head-and-body length is 48–50 cm (19–19.5 in), shoulder height 12–15 cm (4.5–6 in), and the tail is 11–29 cm (4.5–11.5 in) long, which is notably shorter than the 27–44 cm (10.5–17.5 in) tail of the gray fox. This is due to the fact that the island fox generally has two fewer tail vertebrae than the gray fox.[9] The island fox weighs between 1 and 2.8 kg (2.2 and 6.2 lb). The male is always larger than the female.[10] The largest of the subspecies occurs on Santa Catalina Island and the smallest on Santa Cruz Island.[10]
The island fox has gray fur on its head, a ruddy red coloring on its sides, white fur on its belly, throat and the lower half of its face, and a black stripe on the dorsal surface of its tail.[10] In general the coat is darker and duller hued than that of the gray fox.

Black Phoebe

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Some Desert birding in the Mojave...

Today's route
Straight from our Hotel 6, a brief Denny's breakfast and then to Jawbone Canyon for some early morning birding this morning. We were here for two main [birds] reasons; Bell Sparrow and Le Conte's Thrasher. Both birds, I'm happy to say were seen well and both, evidently have bred or are about to.

wash at Jawbone Canyon

juvenile Bell Sparrow - lifer!
Bell Sparrow adult - pic a bit dodgy.....

Le Conte's Thrasher nest site

Le Conte's Thrasher - lifer!
Le Conte's Thrasher - lifer!
nearby Lizard
Next we visited the nearby town of California City; specifically the central park there and saw quite a few migrant warblers; specifically Wilsons and Yellow rumped. Quite a few common species as well.
gum tree Turkey Vulture
After lunch we went for a nice afternoon stroll at a mini resort named Silver Saddles. This place, surrounded by the Mojave Desert is a little oasis and pretty bloody birdy. Saw quite a few nice things before calling an early day and driving to our digs in Bakersfield.

migrating Empid...
Ruby crowned Kinglet
resident Acorn Woodpecker
Belted Kingfisher
Migrant waders included Wilson's Snipe

and this Solitary Sandpiper

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Southern California Birding continues....

Today we left our hotel in Pasadena early in the morning to get up into the hills behind LA for some birding. The main area that we went to was around the Chilao Visitor Centre [see map above for location].
White headed Woodpecker - BOD

White headed Woodpeckers - Lovin' it!

Merriam's Chipmunk - Mammal Lifer!

Merriam's Chipmunk - Mammal Lifer!

Cassin's Finch

Cassin's Finch

The centre was supposed to have feeders to attract birds down however we found out upon arrival it is only open on weekends. Still birding around there was good although a little quiet. I got two lifers; White headed Woodpecker and Hermit Warbler. In addition we saw Dark eyed Juncos, Acorn Woodpeckers, Californian Scrubjays and Steller's Jays plus Olive sided Flycatcher, Mountain Chickadee, Oak Titmouse and Western Bluebirds.

Band tailed Pigeon

We drove up to near Buckhorn Flats Campground however it was still closed for the season. WE did walk a little around that area and heard Fox Sparrow, but saw Cassin's Finches, Pygmy Nuthatches, Black throated Warbler to name a few.

Returning to Chilao we went for a stroll around the campground area and got White breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, in addition to much of the species listed above.

Leaving the mountains we headed east and north before doing some birding at Apollo Park near Lancaster. Here there were some migrants coming through; Yellow-rumped, Wilsons, Townsends amd a Black throated Grey in addition to Pacific Slope Flycatcher, Western Wood Pewee and Ash throated Flycatcher. Waterbirds here included Black necked and Western Grebes plus Ruddy Duck, Cinnamon Teal and Mallard. Californian and Ring billed Gulls were present with Spotted Sandpiper plus Least Sandpiper. We also found a Barn Owl roosting thanks to some local information.
Yellow rumped Warbler

Western Wood Pewee

Eared Grebe [Black necked]
Black throated Grey Warbler
Another migrant - Western Kingbird
Californian Ground Squirrel

One more stop, a little far afield, gave us tremendous views of some 500 Tricoloured Blackbirds. This is basically a Californian Endemic, closely related to the abundant Red-winged Blackbird. Also on this marsh were Great Egrets and at least 5 Sora. Coot, Ruddy Duck and Cinnamon Teal were present also. A Western Tanager was also a nice find here.
Tricolored Blackbird
Tricolored Blackbird - female
Tricolored Blackbird
Californian Quail

Finally stopped at Mojave after a good day and getting ready for some desert birding tomorrow!!